Social work researchers at UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault are receiving a National Science Foundation grant to explore ways to disrupt human trafficking supply chains related to Hurricane Harvey reconstruction efforts.

After Harvey hit Houston and the Texas coastal bend in 2017, causing $125 billion in damage, residents and officials quickly turned their attention to rebuilding homes, apartments and office buildings. This need for a large supply of quick labor after natural disasters can create conditions ripe for human trafficking, exploitation and coercion, especially in a low-wage, high-hazard industry such as construction.

The NSF awarded UT researchers a two-year competitive grant to help disrupt illicit supply networks by studying the patterns of exploitation endured by laborers in the construction industry after Harvey.

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